Things Afro-Cuban seem to be everywhere in Los Angeles this summer, with loads of salsa and Latin jazz nightly for your listening and dancing pleasure. (We could use some timba, though.) The Jazz on the Latin Side All-Stars are one of the best outfits on the scene, and no wonder, with KKJZ’s Jose Rizo getting his pick of local players to fill the ranks. Their CDs (like the new Tambolero) are irresistibly cooking, and live they are even better and hotter, mixing hard Latin grooves and impassioned jazz with burning solos from the likes of Justo Almario and Francisco Torres and a battery of name percussionists. Basically, if you dig Rizo’s Friday-night Jazz on the Latin Side radio show, you’ll love these guys. They’re playing twice this week, at LACMA at 5 p.m. on Saturday and Hollywood & Highland’s season finale at 7 p.m. on Tuesday. Both are free.
Singer Charmaine Clamor comes back to town in a big way with two shows at Catalina Bar and Grill: first with Michael Konik’s Tasty Band on Friday, and then back on Saturday for the CD-release party for her fine new Flipping Out. The mix of classic standards and jazz renditions of Filipino tunes, all in her sultry contralto, make this a nice listen, and she’s even better live.
Vinny Golia brings his menacing battery of reeds into 2nd Street Jazz on Monday. His stuff gets so deep and he blows so crazy, and he’ll have a band of CalArts students with him. Nuff said. NYC guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel brings along a band that includes fine saxophonist Mark Turner to the Jazz Bakery on Wednesday and Thursday. Their collaborations are always worth a serious listen.
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For your straight-ahead fix, try these: trombonists Bob McChesney and Scott Whitfield at the Back Room on Friday (and Whitfield has his Jazz Orchestra West at Charlie O’s on Monday); trumpeter Carl Saunders at Vibrato on Friday and Charlie O’s on Tuesday; tenor titan Don Menza at Charlie O’s on Friday and Wednesday; trumpeter Steve Huffsteter at the Lighthouse on Sunday; and saxist Scott Hamilton at the Crowne Plaza on Thursday.
If you like to veer from the straight ahead, it’s also a good week. The Lounge Art Ensemble are at Il Moro on Friday. Led by drummer Peter Erskine, with bassist Dave Carpenter and saxophonist Bob Sheppard — whatever they have planned ought to be tasty and fascinating. Bob Sheppard is also with the Jon Mayer Trio at Charlie O’s on Thursday, and that is a creative mix. Mayer’s an original on the piano, so listen closely. Another favorite around here, the Nick Mancini Collective, are at the Metropol on Saturday, and the Don Preston Trio play the Open Gate Theatre in Eagle Rock on Sunday, and that should be interesting. We’ve raved plenty about the stellar quartet of tenor Benn Clatworthy, bassist Chris Colangelo, pianist Theo Saunders and drummer Jimmy Branly, back again at Charlie O’s on Sunday. It’s hard bop for the most part, yeah, but they express it in new ways, going deep in the ballads, reaching out in the up-tempo numbers. See if you can get “Inner Urge” out of them.
Finally, there are two big festivals this weekend, starting with the 13th annual West Coast Jazz Party at the Irvine Marriott through Sunday. Quality stuff all weekend in all kinds of settings — poolside, barside, aboard a yacht — and in all kinds of aggregations, from Steve Turre improvising on conch to a tenor battle with Harry Allen and Scott Hamilton, a trumpet battle with Jeremy Pelt and Byron Stripling, and big band tributes to Gerry Mulligan, Mel Torme and Count Basie (and the Juggernaut’s Frank Capp and Basie Orchestra’s Butch Miles are both in the house .?.?. maybe they’ll wrestle for the drum spot). All told, there will be dozens and dozens of top players. Check westcoastjazzparty.com for all the details. Nearer to home the 12th annual Sweet & Hot Festival is at the LAX Marriott Hotel Friday through Monday. This one features Ernie Andrews, The Jack Sheldon Orchestra, curved soprano wizard John Altman, L.A. tenor legend Gil Bernal and hordes more, in all sorts of combinations: swing dances, big bands, small groups. Tickets are a reasonable $25-$45 per day (go to sweethot.org), and the vibe is fun. Take your pick, or if you are seriously hardcore and have loads of cash, hit both. It’s a holiday weekend, so live a little.